Three of the five member Executive Board of the PMUNA have resigned.
Bism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim
August 24, 2005
To Whom It May Concern:
It is with heavy hearts, but out of a deep conviction that there is no other choice at this stage, that we -- Omid Safi, Hussein Ibish and Sarah Eltantawi, three of the four founding members (along with Ahmed Nassef) of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America (PMU) -- hereby tender our resignations from the Board of Directors of PMU.
We helped to form PMU in the hopes that it would develop into an umbrella organization representing a „big tent‰ for Muslims with a very wide variety of religious, political and social attitudes who are drawn together by a spirit of pluralism and compassion to develop and contribute a new voice to the conversation about Islam and Muslims in North America. Our intention was to create a space in which Muslims could pursue a multivalent critique of power, standing against injustice within Muslim societies, among Muslims in North America, and with regard to the foreign and domestic policies of the governments and societies in which we live. We wanted to be as vigorous in challenging injustices in the Islamic world, and the deeply-rooted racism and sexism that lurk within our own community, as we rightly are in condemning the abuses of U.S. foreign policy and the assault on civil liberties in the United States. We also wanted to create a forum for a respectful but critical
engagement with Islamic practices and classical and modern interpretations of Islamic doctrine, as well as how Islam has functions as a social text, especially in our own societies at the present time. We intended PMU to help to develop an independent, and spiritually and intellectually sophisticated, Islamic discourse that is distinctly North American, while remaining true to the essential teachings and values of Islam; one that responds to the challenges and context in which North American Muslims live, as opposed to discourses that are mainly derivative of ideas and agendas formed long ago and/or far away.
The hope was that these two missions would compliment each other, and serve to give a voice to a large section of the community hitherto underrepresented. In both cases, our intention was to help to enrich, broaden and deepen the conversation in the North American Muslim community, and to unleash the power of a set of ideas that have been largely dormant among us in recent years: the Islamic values of tolerance, compassion and equity ˆ that is to say, the spirit of justice that lies at the heart of Islam.
Unfortunately, PMU has not developed in the direction that we had envisioned and worked to promote. We readily accept our share of the responsibility for this, and do not seek to blame or second-guess any of our former colleagues. They are entitled to develop PMU in any direction that they see fit. However we have become convinced that PMU is not a forum that will allow us to successfully pursue the agenda we envisioned at its founding, and that this is not likely to change. We believe that the vision that we outlined in the PMU mission statement and that informed the founding of PMU remains vital and urgently needed, but has yet to find a vehicle for its effective expression. We remain committed to the values and goals of that mission statement, and we will continue to work to help develop and implement a progressive agenda for American Muslims.
We wish PMU all the best, offer it our support and encouragement, and hope that it will to grow into a vital and important organization that represents a significant constituency among North American Muslims.